meeting is necessary, members must decide on the meeting process—the type of
meeting that will help the organization reach its goals.
Leaders can use many techniques to conduct a meeting. The goals of a meeting will
determine that best meeting process to use. Here are a number of meeting processes
Group members contribute as many ideas as possible about a prob-
lem, a program, or a procedure, in a short amount of time. These ideas are considered
at length after the brainstorming ends.
Groups use this tool to establish organization structure,
define rules for conducting business, and codify decisions.
This informal strategy helps groups make plans to achieve goals,
often through consensus rather than formal voting. Group ownership is a hallmark of
this technique, which calls for the participation of all members.
A facilitator and recorder post the group agenda, set ground
rules, and guide interaction and participation. This technique promotes total participa-
tion, commitment, consensus, and ownership.
Small group consider all sides of an issue. Later, the small groups
reassemble to share ides, resources, understandings, and solutions. This is an excel-
lent technique for gathering input from all members of a large group.
Brainstorming is a way to stimulate creative thinking. Simply stated, it is the free ex-
pression of ideas on a given subject without evaluation by the group. Organizations of
all types and sizes use brainstorming to solve business and management problems.
Brainstorming is a useful method for developing ideas, encouraging participation,
solving problems, and exploring possible courses of action in all sorts of meetings.
The essential elements of a brainstorming session follow:
The group leader writes the program to be considered on a chalkboard or butcher
paper. The leader states the question briefly, clearly, and in a manner that will
stimulate thought and conversation.
The leader clarifies the reason the question is being posed by providing back-
ground information as well as information about how the ideas will be used.
The leader outlines the ground rules for brainstorming:
a. Every idea is acceptable
b. Evaluation of the ideas is not allowed during the brainstorming. This includes
both verbal evaluation and nonverbal expression.
c. The quantity of ideas is the goal; quality ideas will follow. (This is called free-
d. Hitchhiking—building on the contributions of others—is encouraged. Some
of the best suggestions are stimulated by other people’s ideas.
e. There is a time limit.
People begin offering their ideas. The presenter lists each idea as quickly as pos-
sible and writes each exactly as given. Hesitation in recording an idea may be in-
terpreted as disapproval. Usually the session begins with an initial spurt of ideas
and then slows down. As the group members consider the ideas listed for a few
minutes, they may come up with a new flurry of ideas. Writing down their own
ideas can help them get their thoughts down.
After all ideas are recorded; the group discusses the suggestions together or di-
vided into subgroups. Before breaking into subgroups, the members as a whole
should identify the most promising ideas. Then, each subgroup selects 5-10 of the
most promising suggestions to discuss. The subgroups report their results to the
reassembled group. The entire membership tries to arrive at a group consensus
regarding what ideas to implement and how.
A BRAINSTORMING EXERCISE
The facilitator may wish to do this sample exercise as a worm up prior to a real prob-
lem-solving brainstorming session.
The facilitator asks the participants to form small groups of approximately six mem-
bers per group. Each group of six forms a circle and selects a secretary.
The facilitator provides a felt-tip marker and newsprint to each secretary and asks him
or her to record every idea generated.
When the groups are ready to begin, the facilitator explains the ground rules as fol-
lows: There will be no criticism during the brainstorming phase; far-out ideas are en-
couraged as they may trigger other, more practical, ideas for someone else; and the
more ideas the better.
Phase One: Generating. The facilitator announces the problem to be solved or the
topic of the session. Each group is given five minutes (or other reasonable time to
cover the problem) to share ideas using the ground rules as outlined.
Phase Two: Evaluating. When the generating phase is completed, the facilitator noti-
fies the groups that the ban on criticism is over and asks them to evaluate their ideas
and form a single list.
Phase Three: Regrouping. If there are four or more groups, the facilitator asks two
groups to share ideas and form a single list.
Phase Four: Sharing. The facilitator asks participants to return to one large group. Sec-
retaries act as spokespeople and take turns sharing their ideas. Participants are asked
to pyramid or combine two or more ideas that might be used together.
Phase Five: Ranking. The facilitator writes the final list of ideas on the chalkboard and
the group is asked to put them in rank order.
Ten Steps to Successful Brainstorming
TEN STEPS TO SUCESSFUL BRAINSTO
Assemble participants. Ensure participants have varied backgrounds. Limit the
number of participants to between 10 and 20
Limit the scope of the problem you are solving. State the problem clearly and
agree about the definition of all words used. Make sure everyone understands the
stated proposition. A problemwell-stated is a problem half-solved.